23 Feb Wildflower, a mobile retail boutique
As a young girl learning to drive a tractor on her family farm in La Grande, Oregon, Mariah Young never guessed she’d one day use those skills to navigate a truck full of fashionable clothing. But that’s exactly what this thirty-three-year-old entrepreneur did. Young is
responsible for launching Wildflower, Central Oregon’s first mobile fashion boutique.
“I always wanted my own business and always had a love of fashion,” says Young. “But I knew being a mom and trying to start a business would be challenging.” Although she’s lived in Bend for the last twelve years working as a dental assistant, her recent role as a new mother changed her career outlook. The idea of putting in long hours away from her daughter and working for someone else no longer appealed to her. So last year, with a spark of ingenuity, she began researching alternate career options.
It was on the social network Pinterest that Young discovered the up-and-coming world of fashion trucks. Following the successful model of a Los Angeles mobile retailer, The Fashion Truck, similar businesses have cropped up in cities across the country. Young liked that the mobile boutique concept didn’t include an expensive brick and mortar lease, and allowed for flexible hours with the ability to move around town. “I felt like Bend, Oregon, was a place
that would support this type of business.”
Luckily, Young was right. After proposing a business plan to her husband and securing seed money, she traveled to Portland in June 2015 to purchase an old Frito Lay truck turned plumbing rig. “It was in good shape, but full of tools,” says Young. “We brought it home and by the end of August it was redone.” Young drew up blueprints, and her husband, along with a friend who had been a finish carpenter, built out the truck’s interior according to her specifications. She called on her network of friends to help with the rest of the refurbishing and paid them mostly in trade. “It was really a collaboration of a lot of people. I felt so much support from my friends. I paid one back by purchasing new wheels for his mountain bike.”
The collaborated effort resulted in what’s now a casual, chic interior, complemented with wood finishes and mosaic ceiling tiles, in soothing tones of white. Young notes, “People tell me once they’re inside that it doesn’t feel like the back of a truck.” Built in the style of a tiny house, Wildflower has limited insulation, reclaimed wood boxes, a repurposed dresser and environmentally-friendly utilities. The truck runs off of a battery pack in the summertime so as not to consume electricity during the hot months. Once the snow hits, Young relies on a small space heater to keep the interior cozy.
The exterior of the truck is vinyl wrapped in a bright, organic, floral design. A quote scrolled across the back reads, “In a field of roses she’s a wildflower.” Young says, “I feel like this quote describes me and my business: unique and different.”
As for the boutique’s style, Young gives a nod to the contemporary with a bohemian vibe. Chunky sweaters and T-shirts with simple details hang from the racks. Young stresses that along with carrying individual pieces meant to mix into staples, she also wants the items to be accessible to a range of women. “I’m really trying to create an atmosphere where any group, any style or any size woman can find something. It’s not only for younger girls or women my age. I try to have a variety.” In that regard, she makes an effort to keep all merchandise under a sixty-dollar price tag.
Another aspect Young is proud of is that local artists make the jewelry and accessories she sells from Wildflower. “I support other women in town trying to express themselves and earn a little extra money.” She says she’s grateful for the encouragement given by fellow female entrepreneurs in the community, and she’s happy to pay the kindness forward. She relates to what it’s like to embark on a solo business venture. “When I started, I was really putting myself out there. It was my style, my truck. I didn’t have a partner. There was no one to hide behind.”
Now Young is beginning to see repeat customers and is regularly called to do private parties all over Central Oregon. One day a week her store can be found parked at Spoken Moto off SW Industrial Way in Bend. The rest of the time she’s usually traveling to parties, fundraisers and special events. “It’s been really fun,” she says. “If this goes well, maybe my next truck will be just shoes.”
To book a party or find store locations, visit wildflowerfashiontruck.com.